Thursday, May 1, 2008

Breaking News : Disney Marks Entry into Robotic Toy Market with an Ultimate WALL-E and Tinkerbell Toy Robots

May be it don't looks like, but believe me, this new official collaboration between Disney, Pixar, Thinkway Toys and WowWee to develop Robotic Toys that can talk, dance, fly, respond to commands, feature motion tracking and more could be a major merchandise news, and strangely, nobody seems to talk about it.

Until now, Disney Consumers Products and its licensees were manufacturing the toys and plushs we all know about. But now, with this new collaboration with WowWee robotics and Thinkway, Disney merchandise may enter in a new dimension.

If you don't know WowWee, you surely know their robots as WowWee is the company who created the Robosapien robot - a huge hit everywhere on the planet - and many others like the Roboraptor, Roboreptile, etc...And last year they introduced their new FlyTech technology with a remote controlled flying Dragonfly.

We are not talking about sophisticated Audio-animatronics available for everyone, and there is on the market more sophisticated robots than the one produced by WowWee, but considering their reasonable prices their performances are impressive, and Mark Tilden, WowWee's founder was working at NASA before, so he's a guy who knows what the word robotic mean.

Among the future products that Thinkway and WowWee will create with Disney there will be an ultimate WALL_E robot and a flying Tinkerbell available this fall - yes, next christmas you will have a Tinkerbell flying inside your home! - Prices should be $189.99 for the WALL-E and $39.99 for Tinkerbell. The Ultimate WALL·E robot will have 10 motors for lifelike movement. With voice activation and a follow-me mode, WALL·E will follow the sound of a human voice and detect someone entering a room. The robot will have a variety of sensors that let it hear, navigate, and detect obstacles.
Also, a IDance WALL·E will be released with USB ports, and will be able to play MP3 music, and have an audio in-jack that works with any iPod or MP3 player. This IDance WALL-E will sell for $24.99.

If you want to know how good they are, you can watch some videos of the WowWee robots HERE

Below is the official Disney press release. And right after there is a special bonus: don't miss this new WALL-E clip where he discover a hula-hoop!

Disney Marks Entry into Robotic Toy Market with New Line of Programmable Toy Robots

GLENDALE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Disney Consumer Products today announced its entry into the robotic toy market with an innovative line of robotic toy products created in collaboration with Pixar Animation Studios, Thinkway Toys and WowWee.

The robotic toys are inspired by WALL·E, the adorable robot from the Disney·Pixar theatrical release of the same name set to debut this summer, and Tinker Bell, the beloved Disney Fairy. The iDance WALL·E dancing boombox will be available in June; the Ultimate WALL·E robotic toy and the remote control Tinker Bell flying toy will be available this fall. With life-like movements and features designed to impress and delight fans of all ages, these new robotic toys are anticipated to be big hits with holiday shoppers this year.

Disney has been a pioneer in the area of entertainment robotics and Audio-Animatronics™ technology since the early 1960s, beginning with the opening of Disneyland’s famed Enchanted Tiki Room, where a chorus of colorful tropical birds moved their eyes and faces to music, and at the 1964 World’s Fair, where a life-like Abe Lincoln recited famous speeches at the “Great Moments With Lincoln” exhibit. Audio-Animatronics technology has since become a ubiquitous feature of Disney's Theme Parks and Resorts. More recently, Walt Disney Imagineering has debuted such innovations as Lucky The Dinosaur and The Muppet Mobile Lab – free-roaming Muppets capable of interacting with park guests.

The new line of WALL·E and Tinker Bell robotic toys carries on this tradition and seeks to bring its characters and their personalities to life through advanced movement and programming that entertains and delights kids by making them feel as if they are interacting with a real Disney character.

"Walt Disney and the Imagineers invented Audio-Animatronics, and Disney has been a leader in robotic entertainment in our theme parks for decades,” said Chris Heatherly, vice president of Technology & Innovation for Disney Consumer Products. “We’re excited that there is now the ability and technology to bring that experience into people’s homes. With robotics, we have a great opportunity to bring our characters to life in a very realistic and new way. If kids can interact, learn and play with our characters and they become an extension of their family, we will have done something that is truly magical.”

The WALL·E line of robotic toys was developed in collaboration with Toronto-based Thinkway Toys. In addition to the Ultimate WALL·E and iDance WALL·E, Thinkway will bring to market additional WALL·E-inspired robots, action figures, playsets, a role-play WALL·E robot arm, novelties and collectibles.

Disney’s new line of robotic toys will debut at Maker Faire, a popular, ever-growing gathering for die-hard geeks of all ages and tech do-it-yourselfers, which will be held May 3-4 at the San Mateo Fairgrounds in California.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to work with Disney on WALL·E,” said Albert Chan, president and CEO of Thinkway Toys. “This exceptional story is filled with classic Pixar humor, adventure, and characters that are endearing and inspirational. The team at Thinkway Toys has been fast at work with Disney, integrating these key elements into the new WALL·E line of robotic toys.”

Based on the title character from this summer's highly anticipated Disney·Pixar theatrical release, the Ultimate WALL·E is an advanced robot that truly brings the character to life. Designed and developed through a close collaboration between Disney, Pixar animators and Thinkway, the Ultimate WALL·E features 10 motors, giving it a high level of movement and animation. The remote control makes it easy for kids to program WALL·E’s movements. An innovative touch programming system lets kids direct WALL·E simply by making patterns on the remote's touch pad. With voice activation and a follow-me mode, WALL·E can follow the sound of a human voice and detect someone entering a room. He also has several emotional states and an easy system for programming thousands of combinations of movements with the remote. Numerous sensors allow him to detect and respond to his environment, including infrared sensors that allow him to detect obstacles and steer around them, sonic ears that detect sound direction, and touch sensors. The Ultimate WALL·E is also MP3 compatible and features built-in speakers. USB cables and rechargeable batteries are included. The Ultimate WALL·E will debut this fall at ToysRUs and; SRP $189.99.

The iDance WALL·E talks, dances and has animated eyes that move and groove to the music. Its audio in-jack works with any iPod or MP3 player. It features sound activation functionality, action and play. It will be available at ToysRUs, Target, Wal-Mart, Blockbuster and this summer; SRP $24.99.

Disney Consumer Products also collaborated with WowWee, a leading developer of innovative hi-tech consumer robotic and entertainment products, for the creation of an elegant flying toy wonder inspired by Tinker Bell.

Disney Fairies fans will get big thrills this fall with the new Tinker Bell featuring WowWee’s FlyTech technology, a vertical flyer featuring enchanting flight patterns, graceful wing design and a flower wand remote controller designed specifically for children’s hands. Users can control the height and speed of the Tinker Bell flyer with ease, allowing her to soar, dive and glide. Her light-weight, crash-resistant materials prevent her from getting into mischief.

WowWee’s award-winning FlyTech line of aeronautical products launched in 2007 with FlyTech Dragonfly™, the world’s first commercially available radio-controlled ornithopter and one of TIME Magazine’s “Best Inventions of the Year” (2007). Featuring the same dual wing design to provide lift and propulsion, the Tinker Bell flyer brings the magic of flight to the hands of a younger generation of girls. SRP $39.99, available at ToysRUs, Wal-Mart, Radio Shack and other major retailers beginning this fall.

Photo and video: copyright Disney-pixar

1 comment:

Bill Gibbons said...

Nice post. I'm still looking forward to a Disney and More multi-part look at the making of Disney's Animal Kingdom, complete with hard-to-find concept art. Hope it's coming soon.